Apple Supplier’s Vietnam Chief Exits After Outlining China Shift

(Bloomberg) — AirPods maker GoerTek Inc.’s Vietnam business chief is leaving the company, days after the executive outlined how Apple Inc.’s Chinese suppliers are likely to move capacity out of the country far faster than anticipated to pre-empt fallout from escalating Beijing-Washington tensions.

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Deputy Chairman Kazuyoshi Yoshinaga is departing for “personal reasons,” the Chinese firm said in a brief exchange filing, without elaborating. He didn’t respond to messages seeking comment.

Apple’s suppliers rarely comment on its thinking, in part because of the US company’s famous insistence on secrecy across its global supply chain. Yoshinaga didn’t disclose Apple’s strategy or plans to Bloomberg News. Instead, he described how big US names are pressuring their Chinese suppliers to explore alternative production bases beyond the country, such as India and Vietnam.

Read more: Apple Suppliers Are Racing to Exit China, AirPods Maker Says

The expanding conflict between the US and China — which began with a trade war but expanded to encompass sweeping bans on the exchange of chips and capital — is spurring a rethink of the electronics industry’s decades-old supply chain. The world’s reliance on the Asian nation became starkly clear during the Covid Zero years, when Beijing’s restrictions choked off the supply of everything from phones to cars.

The iPhone maker itself has kept mum on whether it plans to diversify out of China, which would entail revamping a model Tim Cook pioneered under Steve Jobs before taking over as chief executive officer. The US giant has been careful to avoid suggestions it might reduce its investment in a country where it’s built an ecosystem centered on companies such as GoerTek and Foxconn Technology Group, which collectively employ millions.

GoerTek for its part is investing an initial $280 million in a new Vietnam plant while considering an India expansion, Yoshinaga said during last month’s interview.

–With assistance from Nguyen Xuan Quynh, John Boudreau and Gao Yuan.

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